uTorrent for Windows saw its first public release in September 2005, and soon became the most widely used BitTorrent application by far. Recent estimates show that uTorrent is the client of choice for more than half of all active BitTorrent users.
Needless to say, all significant changes to uTorrent affect millions of users and the entire BitTorrent infrastructure. With the release of its 2.0 Beta the client introduces breakthrough changes that offer a helping hand to its users, ISPs and most of all – tracker owners.
In comparison to HTTP trackers, UDP trackers use less resources and put less strain on their servers. Since almost all public trackers now have a UDP variant, it can save tracker owners a lot of hardware and thus money.
Using UDP is generally a good idea to bring down load on popular trackers,” said uTorrent developer Arvid Norberg when commenting on the implementation of the newly added feature. “We want uTorrent to be a good citizen and not hammer trackers.”
“Hopefully client support will be wide spread enough at some point, so that trackers that currently spend 99% of their capacity on misbehaving clients flooding it with HTTP requests can turn that off,” Norberg added.
Although Norberg’s comments suggest that uTorrent is one of the first to implement UDP tracker support, they are in fact quite late to the party. Vuze, BitComet, Deluge, KTorrent and rTorrent are just a few of the clients that have implemented this feature already.
However, with its massive market share uTorrent is the one that really makes a difference, and this new feature will be welcomed by all major BitTorrent tracker operators. The benefits of UDP trackers will not go unnoticed by users either since they do not interfere with HTTP traffic, meaning that associated web-browsing slowdowns will be a thing of the past.
Aside from smoother web-browsing, users will notice a few other changes in uTorrent 2.0. For starters the new speed guide is a welcome addition. By using Google’s measurement lab servers, uTorrent users can now test their connection speed and let the client automatically pick the best settings based on the results.
Unfortunately Google’s lab servers are all located in the US, which makes the results less accurate for uTorrent users in other parts of the world. The uTorrent team hopes that they can provide optimal results for these users at a later stage. “We anticipate that the server coverage will improve and cover other continents better in the future,” Norberg commented.
With the 2.0 Beta, uTorrent also enjoys several improvements to its uTP support, which makes the client more network aware hoping to decrease the load for ISPs as well. uTP support can be enabled or disabled at the user’s request.
The new Beta has something in store for everyone, and although users are free to play around with it, we should note that this is not a stable release and that bugs and unexpected crashes are possible. The latest release as well as a feedback thread can be found at the uTorrent forums.